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The Memory Alpha Guide to Layout is an in-depth description about how to lay out an article. It is not a guide for wiki markup or a Manual of Style; it is simply a summary of how to write a clean, simple, and well-organized article.
Start your article by strongly emphasizing the subject of your text. This serves to highlight what your article is about, making the subject as clear as possible for the reader's benefit.
If the article is several paragraphs long (or more), it's best to keep the first paragraph as short and succinct as possible, with a clear explanation of what the article is about. However, do not title your introductory text with an "Introduction" or similarly-titled header. Leave the opening paragraph(s) without a header, so that the table of contents is generated after the introductory text.
Keep your paragraphs relatively short; break up longer ones so that the reader's eye doesn't start to drift and gloss over the article. (Avoid extremely long sentences for the same reason.) By the same token, articles as a whole should also be as short as possible while still covering all relevant information adequately. (This balance is often difficult to achieve!)
Headers are a useful way to divide the content of an article into appropriate parts (see Section). However, do not use an excessive number of headers, because the article will start to look cluttered, the more headers there are. Try to avoid creating one-paragraph sections, for example. (In these cases, perhaps bullet point lists would be more appropriate.)
Any or all of the following six sections may be added to the end of an article as a means to provide the reader with resources at which to find further information. To separate this meta-information from the main content, create a section Appendices and add all necessary subsections there.
Note: It is not necessary to italicize the content of these sections!
A complete list of episodes/movies in which the article subject appeared, sorted chronologically.
Further information about the subject, originating from official but non-canon materials such as interviews, technical manuals, encyclopedias, novels, etc. Avoid putting fan speculation here. Also, for character pages, structure the information so that details about the performer who played the character comes first, followed by any other background details regarding the character.
Writings in different medias (principally in books and comics), the authenticity of which is questionable.
If you used an outside resource (for example, a book) to help write your article, it is sometimes useful to cite it so that other readers may consult that resource if they wish to find more information. Use a basic list layout, and include the ISBN number for reference.
- Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda; Star Trek Encyclopedia; Pocket Books; ISBN 0-671-53609-5 (3rd edition, paperback, 1999).
- Geoffrey Mandel; Star Trek: Star Charts; Pocket Books; ISBN 0-7434-3770-5 (paperback, 2002).
This section is for articles that are related to the current one (see Manual of Style).
If you know of any external websites that you believe are useful to the reader who is interested in more information on the subject, include them here in list form. Describe external links when possible.
- Ex Astris Scientia - Bernd Schneider's website focuses on everything related to starships.
Exceptions to this basic article structure include pages for the episode, novel, comic, and game guides. For these types of articles, copy the style of an existing article and use that.